The brief called for the design of a house for a young family of three just outside the picturesque little town of Clarens. The family, currently located in Kenya, consists of a pilot an artist and their daughter. The wife and daughter decided to move back to South Africa as the husband commutes all over Africa and only spends limited time at home. They required a small house consisting of an open plan living room and kitchen, with one bedroom and an en-suite bathroom. As an artist, the wife preferred an area where her creativity can be expressed freely, something more secluded but still safe, situated in the heart of nature itself. The major constraint was an extremely limited budget.
Architect: Morne Pienaar from HolmJordaan Architects and Urban Designers
Quantity Surveyor: Letitia Wannenberg
Structural Engineer: Theuns Jordaan from LMV (Pty) Ltd. Civil & Structural Engineers | Urban & Regional Planners | Environmental Consultants
With a tight budget, the architect kept the possibility for future expansion in mind. Recalling old Free State block houses, the Architect interpreted a small square footprint. The little “blockhouse” was set out in 7 x 7 x 7m creating a larger than normal interior scale. This enabled the Architect to optimize the space by adding an additional mezzanine level.
As nature and the geographical setting of the house formed such an influential part of the design, the house opens up towards the mountains in the background. A steel staircase on the side of the house spiral to the roof, allowing the artist access to the spectacular surrounding views, while creating an elevated outside room.
The 7x7x7m block will be constructed on a terrace of stepping slate allowing natural fauna and flora to grow freely in and around the setting. Water will always form part of the natural entity of a design. A series of water channels and downspouts were specially designed around the house. Surrounded by a freeform slate “kraal” wall, the design will dissipate into the landscape and history of the blockhouse typology.